It's the most wonderful time of the year . . .
Or is it?
What's happened to Christmas?
As a child, Christmas was a joyous time for me, and now I find my patience and joy slipping as away as I frantically try to "make" Christmas perfect for my family, particularly for our boy who has never experienced it before.
Already the stores are lined with Christmas decorations, and I haven't even explained what Thanksgiving is all about to Anthony (which happens to be one of my favorite holidays).
I realized we needed to take a moment.
As I stop to think about Christmas, it struct me yet again, as it does every year, of how much we try to take Jesus out of this precious holiday. Sure, we sing and talk about Him, but do we REALLY keep Him at the forefront of our minds.
It took Anthony's sharp voice, saying, "Mommy?" to pull me from my musings.
"What is Christmas?" (Have you ever been asked that question? I'm not sure that I have until now but it's a question that really stopped me dead in tracks for a moment. In our culture of excess, it is almost impossible to imagine someone having never experienced Christmas. I wonder if that is really such a bad thing. What would you think if you saw all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the American celebration of Christmas for the first time? Would it even cross your mind that it might in honor of the Savior of the world? It seems to me that it would appear just as an excuse to decorate with red and green.)
"Well, Anthony, it is a holiday where we celebrate Jesus' birthday, His birth here on earth, so He could fulfill God's plan to save us from our sins."
"Oh, I like Christmas, then! I want to give Jesus presents for His birthday!
"That's great, son! And at Christmas, we also give presents to others."
My last statement caused my sweet boy pause . . . "Why don't we give presents to Jesus if it is His birthday? Why do we give presents to others?"
(Why do we give gifts to others on Christmas when it is suppose to be about Jesus? There is nothing wrong with giving gifts, but in our fallen world, Satan has used this aspect of Christmas to pollute the true meaning behind it. We get so caught up in buying gifts that we forget why we celebrate.)
So, I explained that we give God the gift of ourselves and that we can help others at Christmas and show love by giving gifts. I further reminded him, as much as myself, that Christmas is not about the gifts but rather about the birth of Jesus, because without His birth, there would be no salvation. Without His birth, there would be no eternity forever with God.
Once again, God used my son, new to faith, to hit me with the truth. We spend so much time trying to buy gifts for other people and making the season fun that many times we forgot about the greatest gift given to us. In turn, we neglect giving Him the gift of our lives!
So this Advent season, I want to focus on Jesus with my kids. My greatest desire and prayer for them is that they will seek to serve and follow Him above all else.
So my challenge to us this holiday season is to approach Christmas as if you are seeing it for the first time. Each time we see decorations, instead of thinking, "how pretty", or "I would love to have that in my house", let's praise God for the immeasurable gift of His Son, remembering it isn't about all the gifts we will give or receive, it's about Best Gift of All, JESUS CHRIST.